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November 19, 2010

Perimeter shooting dooms NU again in 70-67 loss

For the second time in as many days, Nebraska's dismal shooting from the perimeter cost it a chance at a victory at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

After going 0-for-10 from 3-point range in Thursday's loss to Vanderbilt, the Huskers shot just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc and, coincidentally, fell three points short against Davidson on Friday, 70-67.

Leading by as many as nine points in the first half, Nebraska (2-2 overall) slowly let the lead slip away as the Wildcats heated up from the outside. Davidson (1-2) hit 11 3-pointers to account for nearly half of its total points in the win.

"The frustrating thing is the effort's there," head coach Doc Sadler on his post-game radio show. "You can't get outscored basically 27-0 on 3-point shots. They got 33 points out of it, and we got six. You can't give a team 27 points on the perimeter. You just can't do it."

Following a basket by senior guard Drake Beranek to put Nebraska up 36-34 with 14:30 to go in the second half, the Wildcats shot out to a 46-40 advantage with the help of four consecutive 3-pointers.

The Huskers stayed within reach as the game clocked ticked away, and they were able to make it a one-possession game at 63-60 with 1:59 to play off of six straight points from sophomore center Jorge Brian Diaz, and a jumper by senior guard Lance Jeter cut the deficit to one with 1:08 on the clock.

A pair of free throws by Davidson's Tom Droney made it 65-62 with 41.6 to play, but Beranek came through on NU's ensuing possession to make his first two Division-I free throws with 29.1 left to bring it back to one.

The Wildcats hit another free throw to bump the lead back to 66-64 with 25.8 remaining, but Nebraska committed a crucial turnover when sophomore forward Brandon Ubel was called for traveling with 15.6 seconds on the clock.

Brendan McKillop, who scored a game-high 21 points on six 3-pointers, added another free throw to make it 67-64 with 14.6 seconds to go, and NU sophomore guard Eshaunte Jones bricked an open 3 with 5.6 seconds to all but seal up the loss.

Jeter made it seem closer than it was when he hit a long 3 with 1.2 seconds left, and another free throw by Droney made it 70-67 with .07 on the clock. The Huskers' had one last chance to tie it with a full court heave, but it fell well short.

"We're playing hard," Sadler said. "We're just not being very efficient offensively, and we've got to get it corrected, bottom line… If we make two or three 3s in this ball game, and I don't think we took one bad 3 the whole game, and if we make two or three yesterday, we're sitting here thinking we're fixing to play in the championship game.

"But the reality is we're sitting here and we're not making those shots. I think right now we're 2-for-21 in the tournament from the 3-point line. Then you've got the two teams we've played in the tournament - one got 24 points and one hit 33 from the 3s. We've got to figure something out."

Nebraska looked like a team determined to start the game off on the right foot, as it used good defensive pressure to jump out to an 11-2 lead with the help of seven points from Jeter in the first five minutes.

However, that hot start fizzled out pretty quickly as the half went along. After a nice bucket and foul shot by Diaz with 10:24 remaining, the Huskers went the next 7 minutes, 52 seconds with scoring a field goal.

The cold shooting helped Davidson chip away at the lead and eventually take a 28-24 advantage after six straight points by forward Jake Cohen, who scored 15 of his 19 total points in the first half.

The Huskers were finally able to get the ball in the basket by the end of the half, and they even went into halftime on a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead at 30-28. Nebraska shot just 32.1 percent (9-of-28) from the floor in the first half, but made up for it by going 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

Jeter scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Huskers, while sophomore forward Christian Standhardinger scored 14 off the bench and Diaz added 13.

Nebraska will finish out the Puerto Rico Tournament against the loser of Hofstra/Western Kentucky on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. CT with the hopes of at least picking up one win on the trip.

"Bottom line is things have to be fixed on the offensive end for us to have a chance to be a decent team," Sadler said.



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